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Under the Bills Bill, Britain will not treat refugees with the humanity they deserve

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No one can help but be moved by the terrible pictures we have seen from Ukraine over the past few days.

The UN refugee agency estimated on Sunday that 368,000 people had already fled, and that number could reach 4 million. Thousands of people line up on the western borders to flee to Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Moldova. This should correspond to the Syrian war as the largest displaced movement since the 1940s.

Contrary to popular belief, refugees have no legal obligation to settle in the first safe country they enter. Which makes sense when we think about it, because otherwise those countries bordering on conflict zones would just be overcrowded. That would be unfair and would add to the difficulties.

That is why the EU has stated that its 27 members have agreed to consider granting protection to Ukrainian refugees for three years without asking them for asylum.

The UK government started by refusing to change its admission rules at all.

I don’t know if it was serious, but immigration MP Kevin Foster tweeted last weekend that there was no need to change the rules to make it more generous because Ukrainian refugees could already come here if they were willing to participate in the seasonal scheme of agricultural workers. So, you know, you can escape here to the shelter while you pick our strawberries! A couple of hours later, this tweet was deleted.

Now the government has said it will expand the definition of “family member” to allow UK citizens or those settling in the UK to bring some Ukrainian relatives to the UK – to come here for a year without having to enter the UK. asylum system. It also says that community groups and businesses can sponsor the arrival of other Ukrainian refugees in the UK. However, so far no details have been given on how this scheme will work and how communities like mine in Kendall can interact with it and offer shelter to those in desperate need.

A YouGov poll over the weekend found that 63 per cent of Britons would support Britain’s acceptance of Ukrainian refugees.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister spoke at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London about the parable of the Good Samaritan, which he said “teaches exactly what we should do when our neighbors are attacked” that Ukrainians are our neighbors. and that it is “the right to help Ukraine in any way we can.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever negotiated like that with the Prime Minister.

I therefore ask him to stand behind these words – and not only for the citizens of Ukraine, but also for those fleeing conflict, hunger and persecution around the world, who receive much less media coverage – for example, in Eritrea, South Sudan and M ‘yanme.

This crisis is underscored by the bill on nationality and borders that is currently being passed in parliament. One of my big concerns about this legislation is that it will create two categories of refugees. Those who arrive by formal means – for example, through resettlement schemes in Syria and Afghanistan, and those who arrive by informal means often from Eritrea, Iran and – at least for now – Ukraine. We do not act as a good neighbor if we divide refugees into “deserved” and “unworthy” solely on the basis of the way they got here.

The government says the bill is aimed at preventing people from making dangerous movements across the canal in light boats.

But as we saw in Afghanistan last summer and now witness with Ukraine, if your country is captured by enemy forces or captured by draconian guerrillas; if your city is being shelled, or armed militants are taking up positions on your corner, you don’t have time to stand in line for a visa to the embassy. You literally have to collect what you can carry and run to save your life, depending on the mercy of other nations to accept you.

Currently, Ukrainian refugees arriving on our shores without family ties will be considered criminals – they will only have temporary permission to stay, will not have access to family reunification and will not resort to public funds. They may also be referred to offshore institutions for consideration of their asylum applications under current proposals – and this includes families with children. And, by the way, if any of us helped them get here, we would also be treated like criminals.

Ukrainians do not want to settle here forever – they want to return to Ukraine as soon as possible, because it is their home, but so far we must show generosity and do everything possible to welcome them for a long time. need to stay here.

I am proud of the UK’s reputation for human rights and religious freedom, a place where people know they will be safe.

If we pray for peace and justice in Ukraine, with a broken heart and angry at the anger that is happening, let us do our best to be hospitable, warm and prosperous people who do everything for our innocent neighbors.

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